Living Forward

By: Sara Urquhart; Photos by: Brooke Dennis for Alt Summit

Understanding our past and its impact on our current life is valuable. But I’m sure we agree that dwelling on our past, whether it’s been triumphant or dismal, is a recipe for mediocrity and unhappiness.

Looking backward on someone else’s path to success has the potential to be just as damaging. If I focus on the success of another designer, blogger, or entrepreneur and try to reproduce every step of her journey, I’ll inevitably come up short because replicating her path won’t help me achieve my greatest success.

I’m not suggesting we need to reinvent the wheel. Certainly the stories of our role models inspire and teach us; we can learn so much from their decisions, and we’d be foolish not to apply best practices.

Instead of copying them, though, we can use the experiences of others as a catalyst for the dilemmas we face. Living forward means building on that inspiration to develop our own innovations, expanding best practices to fit our circumstances, and seeking new solutions for our problems.

When we innovate and problem-solve for ourselves, those successes become truly ours, and not a repetition of someone else’s work. Living forward means embracing an experimental mindset—you consider what to keep, what to challenge, what to throw away, and how to create something that’s your very own.